Appearing in "Monster"
- The Triad
- Rebecca Banner (Appears in Flashback)
- Betty Ross (Appears in Flashback)
- Rick Jones (Appears in Flashback)
- Susan Drake (First appearance) (Only in flashback)
- Brian Banner (Appears in Flashback)
- Nurse Meachum (Only appearance) (Only in flashback)
- Lord (Yahweh) (Invoked)
- General Thaddeus Ross (Appears in Flashback)
- Igor Sklar (Appears in Flashback)
- Mr. Thayer (First appearance)
- Mephisto (Cameo)
- Vinnie Corbo (Only in flashback)
- Spider-Man (Peter Parker) (Only in flashback)
- Human Torch (Johnny Storm) (Only in flashback)
- Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards) (Only in flashback)
- She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters) (Only in flashback)
- Hercules (Only in flashback)
- Black Knight (Dane Whitman) (Only in flashback)
- Captain America (Steve Rogers) (Only in flashback)
- Wolverine (Logan) (Only in flashback)
- Colossus (Piotr Rasputin) (Only in flashback)
- Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner) (Only in flashback)
Races and Species:
- Demons (Cameo)
- Human-Olympian Hybrids (Only in flashback)
- Mutants (Only in flashback)
- Mephisto's Realm
- Dark Dimension
Synopsis for "Monster"
The Triad: Guardian, Golbin and Glow, peer into the mind of the Hulk to try and learn the true origins of the creature that they have guided through the Crossroads...
It all began a lifetime ago in Dayton, Ohio, as Rebecca Banner struggles through the complicated birth of her son Bruce. In the waiting room is Bruce's father, Brian, who struggles with the possibility that his wife might not make it through the pregnancy. Brian, a long time alcoholic begins to wish he brought a bottle with him as he watches his wife painfully give birth to their son. As he watches the boy be born, he can't help but wonder if all the years of radiation experiments might have made his son a mutant, and instead of giving life to a child, instead created a monster.
Young Bruce isn't allowed to be brought home until a few months later. His mother truly loves the boy and hangs a special star over his crib (which resembles Glow). Rebecca's attention toward young Bruce ends up earning the resentment of Brian who becomes jealous as he believes his wife's attention should be his and his alone. Brian then tries to keep his wife away from the boy, forcing her to accompany him on engagements leaving young Bruce with the cruel baby sitter Nurse Meachum. Meachum would neglect the boy (he would view her as looking like Goblin) and the infant Bruce would find solace with his favorite doll, Guardian, and the glow from the star above his crib.
Years later, it is Christmas Eve, and a toddler Bruce Banner sneaks downstairs to see if Santa has brought him his Christmas presents. He comes down with his doll Guardian, who he leaves "on watch" while he inspects the presents under a tree that is adorned with the star that used to be over his crib. Unwrapping one of his presents, the incredibly bright young boy begins building the mechanics set that was gifted to him. His joy is interrupted by the arrival of his father who witnessing the boys show of intelligence with absolute fury. Not believing that his boy could be naturally bright he smashes his creation (to Bruce he takes on the appearance of Goblin) waking up Rebecca. When Rebecca tries to talk sense into her husband he slaps her across the face. When young Bruce comes to his mother's aid, Brian easily throws the boy aside. When Brian accuses Bruce of being a mutant, Rebecca realizes that her husband was exposed to radiation when he was working in Los Alamos, but insists that the doctors found nothing wrong with him. When Nurse Meachum is awoken by the commotion, Brian orders her to take Bruce upstairs while he has a "talk" with his wife.
As a teenager attending Science High School, Bruce Banner is exceptionally bright, earning the ire of his less intelligent students. In the care of his aunt Susan, she would meet with the principal of the school who would identify that Bruce has an incredibly high IQ. The principal identifies that the murder of his mother at the hands of his father, and his father's subsequent institutionalization has led to Bruce to pent up his anger, leaving faculty to wonder about Bruce's well being. As this is happening, a science class has gone awry when one of Bruce's classmates slips in a chemical when Bruce isn't looking causing a small explosion. Because nobody sees this, Bruce immediately gets and takes the blame for the accident.
Time passes again, and as an adult, Bruce visits his mother's grave. There he is surprised by the arrival of his father, who still believes that Bruce is somehow a mutant and attacks him. Beating the boy, he tells him that eventually others will find out about him and stop him from using his "radiation spawned" intelligence to take over humanity. As his father leaves, Bruce calls him out, calling him mad finally rationalizing that his father is indeed insane. Bruce pays his final respects to his mother, leaving behind the star that once used to hang over his crib.
Eventually, the adult Bruce would end up at Gamma Base in New Mexico. He is shown to his quarters by Betty Ross. As he is unpacking his things, she learns a little about him, how his mother had died. Among his possessions, she finds Guardian, the doll that had kept him company as a child. When General Ross enters the room, he is aggressively eager to have Banner beginning his work on the Gamma bomb project. When Ross mentions Bruce's father, Bruce becomes upset when Ross begins talking positively about his father who was insane and a murderer. Seeing Guardian among his things, he grabs the doll causing its arm to rip off and demands that Banner stop being such a "milk-sop" and provide the Gamma bomb that he promised to help build. Betty ushers Bruce out and apologizes for her father, telling him that he has a temper and continues to show him around.
Then, on that faithful day where the Gamma bomb was being tested, Bruce would order his colleague Igor to hold off on detonating the bomb when he spots young Rick Jones out near the test site. Rushing out to push the boy into the safety trench, he is unaware that Igor -- a Russian spy -- did not halt the countdown. As the bomb explodes, Banner pushes young Jones into the trench and takes the full force of the bomb alone. The gamma rays cause him to mutate into the Hulk, however as witnessed by the Triad, the persona of the Hulk was always looming over Bruce ever since birth and with the gamma explosion, the Hulk became a physical manifestation of Banner's years of pent up rage.
Finishing their examination of Bruce's past, the Triad comes to realize that they are the final remnants of Bruce Banner's troubled childhood. That Guardian was Bruce's sense of self-preservation, Glow his sense of reason, and Goblin his sense of rage. They realize that Brian Banner's condemnation of Bruce, that his belief that Bruce was some kind of monster -- and the years of torment and abuse caused his accusations to eventually come true. Realizing that they are part of Bruce Banner, the Triad merges into the Hulk's inert form causing him to transform back into Bruce Banner.
Bruce Banner awakens to realize that he had not suppressed his Banner persona he wonders if he should be anything other than being cursed to be the very monster his father accused him to be. As Banner sulks, he is unaware that he is being watched by the Beyonder -- who curious about the universe in which he is visiting traveled through its many dimensions until happening upon the Hulk in the Crossroads dimension -- The Beyonder finds Banner's constant struggle intriguing, seeing that Banner somehow gets gratification from grief and despair instead of loneliness and fear. He decides to help Bruce Banner out when he detects some energy signature entering into the Crossroads dimension. Using his powers the Beyonder manipulates it to key in on Banner's form before teleporting away.
Secret Wars II continues in Avengers #260...
- This story is the first time that it is revealed that Bruce Banner grew up in an abusive household. Some facts about this:
- As explained in Incredible Hulk #-1 all past instances where Banner appears to have a function home life were all fabricated memories that Bruce Banner made up to deal with his abusive past. In fact, the final confrontation between Bruce and Brian in this story has a false ending as well. Incredible Hulk #-1 states that the factor that caused Banner to create his false memories was when he accidentally killed his father in self-defense at the gravesite of his mother.
- It's not outwardly stated here, but Brian Banner beat his wife to death. This is explained in Incredible Hulk #377 and Incredible Hulk #620. Bruce testified against his father (as seen in Incredible Hulk #403) and his father was institutionalized.
- Banner's memories of his high school years are also greatly glossed over. This is another cover-up of troubled memories. His troubled adolescence is explored more fully in Incredible Hulk (Vol. 2) #77–81.
- The appearance of the Beyonder in this story occurs between panels 1 and 2 of page 14 of Secret Wars II #4.
- The Beyonder recounts his arrival to Earth and his early examinations of humanity as chronicled in Secret Wars II #1–3.
- Banner laments that he was "dead", he committed psychic suicide in Incredible Hulk #300 after discovering that he was being manipulated into becoming the savage Hulk again by Nightmare.
This story is the first time that the origins of Bruce Banner are revealed. Many of the moments in this flashback have been expanded upon many times and affect the chronology of the characters in this story. They are as follows:
Page 1-3: The birth of Bruce Banner.
Page 4-5: Bruce Banner as an infant.
Page 4-10: Brian Banner's jealousy over young Bruce Banner.
Page 11-12: Bruce Banner in high school.
Page 13-14: Bruce and Brian Banner at Rebecca Banner's grave
Page 15-17: Bruce Banner's arrival at Gamma Base.
Page 18, Panels 1-3: The start of the Gamma Bomb test
Page 18, Panels 4-5: The Bomb is about to go off